Unvaccinated people in Hong Kong could be banned from ‘high-risk’ places in Covid-19 fifth wave

  • Officials said those without the coronavirus jab could be banned from schools, restaurants, and cinemas if infections rise again
  • Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the move wouldn’t be necessary if more people get the vaccine by the end of August

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Hongkongers have been slow to get the coronavirus vaccine, and the city is far short of its goal of 70 per cent of the population. Photo: Chan Long Hei/Bloomberg

Unvaccinated people could be banned from “high-risk” places such as schools, cinemas, restaurants, and sports venues if a fifth wave of coronavirus hits the city, officials warned on Monday.

Some people accused the government of punishing the unvaccinated public, rather than giving out rewards to convince them to get their vaccines.

Secretary for Food and Health Professor Sophia Chan Siu-chee said those without jabs would face longer quarantine if they were close contacts of infected people, and stricter rules when entering the city.

Unvaccinated workers in high-risk places such as hospitals and schools will also be tested more often.

Asked whether the measures punish those who chose to not get vaccinated, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said they had to be fair to those who had taken the jab too, so “all of us can reach a higher level of vaccination that will keep the city safe”.

After 95 days of the inoculation programme, only about 14 per cent of Hongkongers are fully vaccinated.

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As for easing social-distancing rules on June 10, Chan said the government was considering allowing 12 people (up from the current eight) to eat together at restaurants where all staff and two-thirds of patrons are fully vaccinated.

President of the Professional Teachers’ Union, Fung Wai-wah, said banning unvaccinated students from in-person classes would be unfair and affect their learning.

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Ray Chui Man-wai, chairman of a catering group, said restaurants should not be used to force residents to get jabs because it would hurt their business.

Yesterday, Lam told the media that this ban might not be necessary if enough people were vaccinated by the end of August to protect against a fifth wave.

By that time, she hopes there will be less need for social-distancing rules, “students can enjoy face-to-face classes ... and our city can return to normal”.

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